Why The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was cancelled – and how it could be saved

Just a day after it won an Emmy, Netflix has revealed that its follow-up to the Jim Henson classic is being scrapped.

THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE

It’s official: Netflix will not be bringing Skeksis back, with puppeteer-ed fantasy series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (a prequel to the original 1982 Dark Crystal movie) scrapped after just one season on the streaming service.

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On the face of it, this feels like a travesty. Brilliantly unique (well, apart from being a prequel), beautifully designed and critically well-received, Age of Resistance was one of the best things Netflix had made to date, winning an Emmy just one day before the news of its cancellation broke online.

Following this, it’s no surprise to see the outpouring of upset the news has inspired on Twitter. So why would Netflix cancel what is, on the face of it, such a well-loved show?

Well, the truth is complicated. During promotion for the first seeason much was made of the scale of production needed for the series, which utilised more than 170 puppets, 75 different sets and 83 puppeteers over an unusually long filming period – in fact, according to executive producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach it was the longest shoot of any Netflix show.

“It’s rich, the whole world, because we built everything,” director Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans) previously told RadioTimes.com.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance BTS still of Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel) (Netflix)
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance BTS still of Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel) (Netflix)

“It’s not like CG – CG has a tendency to give you one layer and a background. This is infinite. The eye isn’t tricked by two CG layers, it just keeps going. And also we were very mindful and careful to put creatures and little stories in the background, all puppeteer-ed.”

All of this detail and care looked stunning on-screen – but it was also time-consuming and expensive. And while Netflix doesn’t release viewer data, this decision suggests that the viewership for the first season just wasn’t enough to offset the time, expense and effort needed to return to Thra for another set of episodes.

So are the Gelflings, Skesis, Podlings and other races of Thra truly doomed forever? Well maybe, maybe not. According to Henson Company CEO Lisa Henson the team are hoping to conclude Age of Resistance’s season one cliffhanger in some way, though it’s currently unclear whether this means they’ll be shopping the series to other broadcasters or whether they have some kind of book or graphic novel spin-off in mind.

“We know fans are eager to learn how this chapter of The Dark Crystal saga concludes and we’ll look for ways to tell that story in the future,” she said.

Already, fans have started petitions to bring the series back to screens, so it’s certainly possible that someone else could try and pick The Dark Crystal story up for the next generation – though it almost certainly won’t be any time soon. Many of the show’s production team have moved onto other projects, and the filming process takes significantly longer than normal TV shows even once it begins, so we’re talking about a few years wait whatever happens.

But perhaps for fans of the Dark Crystal that’s just business as usual. Remember, there were nearly 40 years between the original Dark Crystal movie (which was also considered a bit of an expensive flop) and Age of Resistance. Maybe, like the original film, the TV series will become a cult hit, gradually growing in the pop culture consciousness over the years until (in some strange future media landscape) the world of Thra is returned to again.

Personally, I hope we don’t have to wait another four decades – I found Age of Resistance one of the most engaging Netflix releases I’ve ever seen, and I’d love to see more. But whatever happens, I doubt this is the day we’ll wave goodbye to the Dark Crystal franchise forever.

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The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance season one is available to stream on Netflix. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide